Unprecedented Applications

An overview of the college application process during the COVID-19 pandemic

Written by Elliot Schein

As May 1 quickly approaches, so does national college decision day, signaling the end to a long and unusual college application season. 

Many seniors have spent months working by themselves or with the help of tutors, counselors, or family members, meticulously crafting and perfecting their college application, résumé, and essays. Some students even started  the process as early as the summer after their junior year in order to make sure that their material was college-acceptance material.

There are a variety of different applications that students can choose to complete including the Common Application, Coalition for College (also known as the Coalition App), and ApplyTexas, which are platforms that allow applicants to send one application to multiple schools, as well as individual applications specific to each institution.

In a typical year, crucial components of the college application include grade point average and test scores, either SAT or ACT, but because of widespread test cancellations and other obstacles due to COVID-19, many colleges chose to make test scores optional for the next few years. This was great news for many students who were not able to take the SAT or ACT, as well as those who were hoping for a higher score, but it made college application outcomes even less predictable than usual.

One thing to note about this year is that almost every college received more applications than they ever have in the past. This may be because students who would usually never apply to certain schools with test score minimums took advantage of the test-optional rule and wowed admissions teams with other aspects of their application. This also may have led to college waitlists being significantly longer than usual, as well as schools extending their acceptance notification deadline for wait-listed students far into the summer, after most college’s commitment deadlines have already passed.

 Although Stratford’s counseling team is always there to help, they are often overworked during the busy application season and can be difficult to get a hold of. This leads many students to feel overwhelmed, as they don’t know where to begin.

“The college application process was confusing as I felt like I had very few resources to use to answer my questions,” senior Ella Broom shared.

Make sure to begin working on each step of your application far in advance so that if you do get lost at any point, you can get a counselor to help you without racing against the deadline. It is a good idea to set up an appointment with a counselor before you begin the process in order to become familiar with each step, and begin to become comfortable with Naviance, the platform used by the counselors to organize documents and information that eventually gets sent to colleges. 

Despite the stress and challenges, the college application process should also be an exciting time that reminds students that they are graduating soon and beginning a new chapter of life.

“Applying for college was so surreal because it is something that I never saw in the near future. I applied to a lot of colleges in-state and tried not to let the stress get to me as I waited for my responses,” senior Jake Evetts said.

Remember that counselors are your best friend, but they are often busy so it is important to plan ahead and give them time to respond. Additionally, there are various application workshops that you can attend throughout the year

Good luck!

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